In the mid-1990s, Be Inc. had the audacity to create a brand-new personal computer operating system from scratch. It gained critical acclaim for its ahead-of-its-time features, but failed to capture significant market share. It’s still a cult favorite 25 years later, and here’s why.
BeOS is a now-defunct multimedia operating system that was first introduced in October 1995 for Be Inc.’s BeBox computer. The driving forces behind Be were Jean-Louis Gassée, Apple’s former vice president of product development, and Steve Sakoman, creator of the Apple Newton. With these tech credentials, Be had the industry’s ear right from the start.
BeOS was unique among the computer operating systems of the ’90s due to its lack of legacy code. By the mid-’90s, Windows, Mac OS, OS/2, Solaris, Linux, and even NeXTSTEP, were evolutionary operating systems with at least a decade of history. With BeOS, though, Be dared to create an entirely new operating system from scratch to meet the needs of the era: multimedia and internet support.
Be developed BeOS in conjunction with a custom dual-processor, PowerPC-based hardware platform called BeBox. First released on Oct. 3, 1995, it was equipped to handle digital audio and video more adeptly than the contemporary Macs and PCs.